Friday, 22 June 2012

Fright-Day Foods: Purple Glitter Skull Cake

Last month, for a friend's birthday, I decided to take the opportunity to use a new skull-shaped pan I had and make him a spooky cake! Since I know some of you like to bake, I thought I'd share the incredibly simple decoration details with you here. It's just a vanilla sponge cake (I made other bits of the cake too, but they weren't horror-esque), so I haven't included a recipe below, only decoration instructions.

This post is part of Fright-day Foods!

How-to guide after the cut below↓

Monday, 18 June 2012

Toys: Tarantula Tower by Le Toy Van

Whilst in a shop earlier this year I took the above photo of some kind of 'spider castle'. It turns out that it's actually called 'Tarantula Tower' and is made by a company called Le Toy Van. It seems like a pretty fun toy. I mean, who wouldn't want their own six-wheeled attack tower - decorated with spiders and bats - complete with catapults manned by skeletons? Exactly.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Interview: Peter H. Brothers, Author of 'Devil Bat Diary'

Recently, HSL had the chance to interview three-time Rondo Classic Horror Award nominee and author of 'Devil Bat Diary: The Journal of Johnny Layton', Peter H. Brothers. Below, he tells us more about 'Devil Bat Diary', his respect and admiration for Bela Lugosi, as well as exclusive details about his upcoming novel, the 'Devil Bat Diary' sequel, 'Terror in Tinseltown'!

- First of all, thank you for taking time out to do this interview. 
How would you describe your writing style, for those unfamiliar with your work?

First of all, it's my pleasure and I am grateful for your interest in my book.
My writing style for "DBD" is first-person subjective and what I term "poetic prose," a combination of the gritty, the romantic, the sensitive and the brusque with plenty of alliteration. 

- 'Devil Bat Diary: The Journal of Johnny Layton' - is dedicated to the memory of the late actor Bela Lugosi. Were you a fan of his films before you started writing 'Devil Bat Diary', or is it an appreciation you developed whilst doing research?

I've been a fan of Mr. Lugosi since I saw "Dracula" back in 1973 and that was the beginning.  Since then I have studiously watched his films and read all that I can on him.  Far from the short-tempered and foul-mouth bitter old man as he was portrayed in "Ed Wood" he was a gentleman, the consummate actor, a true professional who loved his craft and was intensely devoted to it.  He was intensely passionate on screen and was a fascinating person.  He is my idol and inspiration.  In summation, I would not be here today if not for his movies and I visit his grave every year around his birthday to pay him my homage and respect.  

- What drew you to creating a story inspired by 'The Devil Bat', rather than some of the other popular horror / science fiction films of the same era?

Well Bela was forced to act in a lot of 'Poverty Row Quickies' during his lifetime but always gave 100% and never played down to the material.  "The Devil Bat" is my favorite film of his and there is a very likeable quality about it.  It was an unusual film for its time and somewhat ahead of its time with its ironic tongue-in-cheek humor. 

The film manages to capture the quintessential Lugosi role: that of a man out for revenge who is in his own way justified, and in a sick sense we as audience members can identify with his frustrations and hopes he gets away with it (hey, who wouldn't want a bevy of Devil Bats at his disposal to dispose those who annoy him or who have done him wrong?).  

- Do you think readers who have seen 'The Devil Bat' will get more out of 'Devil Bat Diary' than those that haven't?

That's a good question.  Some have asked me if they should see the movie before reading the book, and I tell them that the book works both as a companion to the movie and as a stand-alone novel.  Some may expect my book to be a behind-the-scenes disclosure of the making of the movie, and others have expressed disappointment that my novel is not a verbatim retelling of the film and the subsequent liberties I have taken with some of the characters, which I did to make them stand-out more; for example, "One-Shot" McGuire did not talk with a Brooklyn accent in the film, nor was Chief Wilkins gay!

- Was it challenging working with characters that have been introduced in a story line previously?

My whole purpose in writing this book was to see if I could do it, in other words, write a novel.  To be fair I did use a proven template with established characters, but could I set a mood, descbribe personalities, create suspense?  Feeling I had accomplished this has given me the necessary impetus to write the sequel, "Terror In Tinseltown."

- As well as challenging, was it interesting reshaping / expanding upon the personalities and plot from the movie?

It was fun.  It's a little like playing God, you know, playing with these persons and giving them more to do and embellishing their personalities.  We really know very little about their backgrounds (they simply didn't have the time or inclination to worry about stuff like that back then when making these films) and so I had a good time rounding-out their characters.

- Have you included any new characters, or mainly concentrated on developing and deepening the existing ones?

As a matter-of-fact, the character of the coroner did have a part in the original film, but his scene was removed prior to release.  Getting the details on this is now impossible as all the people involved with the production have long-since passed and the records have disappeared.  I only added one-or-two new characters (such as McGinty's secretary, Gladys) but mainly stayed with the folks seen in the film, about eight or nine as I recall.  In contrast there are over two-dozen new characters in the sequel.

Without giving away too many plot details, what would you say were the main differences between the character of Johnny Layton and his re-imagining in the novel?

Pretty much the same, or at least how I imagined him to be.  It's an interesting concept to show footage of a person reacting to situations, then creating his personae based on mere observation.  There's quite of bit of me in his character as well, as I think he and I have much in common. 

- If a new film based on 'Devil Bat Diary' was made, are there any actors that you think would be well-suited to your characters?

You know, I am amazed no one has remade this movie, it is absolutely in tune with the times, but who would play Lugosi's part?  Perhaps Robert De Niro, who was indeed slated to play Lugosi in a biographical film back in the 1970s (of course, I wouldn't mind playing the part myself as I also act, and guess who inspired me to do that?  Bela of course!).  

- In the description of the book, it's noted that subjects and situations that wouldn't have been acceptable to the 1940's film viewers are included. Was it important to update the story for a modern audience with "malicious murders, sacred sex and revolting revelations"?

I put that in to increase interest in the book and to prep the reader for some rather adult subject matter.  I have already gotten in trouble for it: a kid on a monster movie forum objected to the scene where the naked and stimulated Wilkins is chasing Layton around the office, and a lady reviewer in South Africa objected to the "vulgar" language.  Can't please them all . . . 

- Following 'Devil Bat Diary', you've also started writing 'Terror in Tinseltown'. What can we expect from it?

Well it's the Great American Novel (wink).  "Devil Bat Diary" was approximately 52,000 words long and "Terror In Tinseltown" clocks in at over 88,000.  I put everything I had into it and used all my skill.  It is a totally original work and I carry-over only a few characters from the first book (well most of them were killed-off anyway). 

In this new book - and this is the first time it has been mentioned on the WWW - Layton and McGuire are sent to Hollywood to investigate a series of grisly murders of Hollywood agents.  During their adventures they encounter monsters, mobsters, Hollywood luminaries and Layton is reunited with a lost love, but no names yet please!  I hope the book will be ready by July.

- Do you have any other upcoming projects in the works?

One item that needs to be attended to is a revised edition of my book "Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men - The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda."  That will be the next project and possibly one on the making of the first Godzilla film.

Will there be a third book in the Devil Bat series?  I hope so if sales are good, should be a trilogy you know.  
- Lastly, if you had to sum up 'Devil Bat Diary' in 5 words, what would they be?

To write or to read?  Well let's make it: Funny, Frightening, Thought-Provoking, Atmospheric and I hope Entertaining! 

To find out more about 'Devil Bat Diary' or Peter H. Brothers' other projects, you can visit his official website here.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Movies: Storage 24

"London is in chaos. A military cargo plane has crashed leaving its highly classified contents strewn across the city. Completely unaware London is in lockdown, Charlie (Noel Clarke) and Shelley (Antonia Campbell-Hughes), accompanied by best friends Mark (Colin O'Donoghue) and Nikki (Laura Haddock) are at Storage 24 dividing up their possessions after a recent break-up.
Suddenly, the power goes off. Trapped in a dark maze of endless corridors, a mystery predator is hunting them one by one. In a place designed to keep things in, how do you get out?"
I'm not too sure about this film to be honest, but I suppose I should give it a chance at least. It's the big "Kidulthood and Adulthood" on the advertisement that's majorly putting me off of it. Not a fan of those movies. Still, sci fi horror has the potential to be fantastic at its best and hilarious at its worst, so either way 'Storage 24' is worth checking out. In cinemas from June 29th in the UK.

Games: Humble Indie Bundle V

The latest edition of the Humble Indie Bundle has been out for a day but I'm slow!) and this time contains 2 horror games!


The first horror game is Amnesia: The Dark Decent, which is a psychological horror game that we've written about before. You hide from terrible things that are actually creepy and it really is one of the scarier horror games!

The second is Limbo, a dark platform game full of many many deaths! You find yourself up against a range of disturbing scenarios as you travel through a foreboding monochrome world.

The other games contained are Psychonauts, a platforming title from the maker of Grim Fandango, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP, which is an adventure game.

The idea of the humble bundle is that you can pay any amount from $0.1 to $100000  and will receive all the games. You can decide how much goes to charity, to the developers and to the humble bundle makers. But if you give more than the average of what other people have given you receive a bonus game (this is currently $7.71). This time the bonus game is Bastion.

All of the games will work on Windows and several other varieties of PC, and can be bought from any country worldwide (the prices are in dollars, however).

For more information go here!

Movie Posters: Dark Shadows (2012)

Scanned from Apollo Cinema's free 'Escape' magazine

Reviews: Movies - Prometheus

'Prometheus' on the cover of 'Escape' by Apollo Cinema
'Prometheus' - director Ridley Scott's latest and highly anticipated dark science fiction film - was released on the 1st of June in Europe (except for France, Switzerland and Belgium, who got to see it from May 30th so that it didn't contend with the start of UEFA championship, apparently) and will be open for public viewing on June 8th in the US and Canada.

The ship: Prometheus
The film takes place before the story of the original 'Alien' (released 1979), and focuses on the search by scientists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) for the origins of life on Earth. Their search, which is backed by the powerful Weyland Corperation, takes them to a distant star system based on archaeological evidence found on an island of the coast of Scotland. Although it is very apparent that the events in this movie take place in the same universe as 'Alien' did, it's kind of unclear where it stands as part of the series or as a reboot. Scott himself has expressed how the film "will explore
it's own mythology and ideas", though what that means I'm still not entirely sure!

Entering a giant skull building in a storm - sounds safe to me!
The plot contains lots of philosophical subjects about life and the creators of life as the two go in search of "the engineers" who created life on earth, and the reasons why. The plot is a little slow to get started, but gets better as it progresses. As with all the other films in the 'Alien' mythos, things take a turn for the worse after a relatively short period of time. Though thats pretty much expected! There are a few bits of the plot that seem to raise questions that don't get immediate answers (or just don't really make much sense), so I'm assuming that there will be another film after this. Still, that's not necessarily a bad thing!

As well as a fairly intriguing story line, the set design is well done and echoes the style of 'Alien' somewhat. The technology seems believable and functional, which helps the illusion of a futuristic setting and even Giger-style original designs show up, giving a nice dark alien atmosphere to certain sections of the film. One thing I did notice, however, is that in the future, wearing underwear that appears to be made of bandages seems to be en vogue!

Shaw: Clearly disturbed by the future bandage fashions
Anyway, the effects were good; the 3D is well done and adds to the atmosphere, rather than just having pointless scenes of objects flying in your face to show "this is in 3D". There was a slight problem with the titles in the film being somewhat blurry, but that doesn't really have an effect on the film! The prosthetics and make up effects were also solid throughout (although the old man make up looked slightly strange and unnatural).

All the actors played their parts well and were believable (though Guy Pearce's performance as the elderly Peter Weyland is a little weird!), which added to the atmosphere and allowed emotional connections. Charlize Theron as Meredith Vickers and Idris Elba as Captain Janek also both act well in their roles pretty much playing as opposites to each other. They help to give the film a solid grounding whilst also aiding plot development. The main part of Shaw carried the film well but had occasional moments where her character's emotions seemed erractic. Though this did fit well with her character and the stresses she was under. 
A refined android and his over-sized cocktail shaker
The best acting was by Michael Fassbender, playing android David, whos calm demeanor and emotional neutrality makes his character have a constant uncertainty to it. However, I would also have liked to have seen more of the sub characters such as Fifeild (Sean Harris) and Millburn (Rafe Spall) and seen them more developed, but they didn't get much screen time. 

Overall, 'Prometheus' was enjoyable and it had a good sense of brooding dread in parts (though it isn't quite as dark as earlier 'Alien' films) and I appreciated the creature designs and set designs and the development of the aliens plot. Though, to be honest the film did have a few slight confusing elements which didn't make immediate sense. This makes the film feel more like part of an upcoming series of films more than a stand alone story. This perhaps isn't really a bad thing and makes it feel more part of a larger story. I would say that the film is well worth watching, but don't go in expecting Alien -1, because the film really isn't really that, but something new altogether!

For trailers, discussion boards, stills, news, and more information about 'Prometheus' visit the official website:
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